All photos by Isabel Payne.
In early August the OLM team had the opportunity to spend the day white water rafting on the Ottawa River with OWL Rafting. Located about an hour and a half outside of Ottawa, OWL rafting provides fun outdoor adventures ranging from one day rafting trips to two day adventure packages. We opted for their one-day Adventure Rafting, which took us through a number of rolling rapids along the winding Ottawa River. Unsure of what the day had in store for us, we set off to Owl Lane with excitement overlapping any nerves.
Our day began bright and early at the main OWL base for sign-in. It is there you get to meet your guide for the day, as well as learn about the boat you’ll be in and the kind of equipment you’ll be wearing. Life vests, helmets and paddles are provided for everyone at the lodge. When our team was set, a bus took us up the river to a small beach where the rafts awaited. Once on the water, the hard work begins. Our guide taught us the basics for controlling and steering the boat and then set us off towards our first rapid. As we held on to the rope lining our raft, we were flung in all sorts of directions as we careened down what our guide said would be the largest and most powerful rapid of the day. Those seated at the front got a huge surprise as they found themselves practically underwater as they were drenched by a massive wave. After our initial passage, we soon turned around and went back to the same rapids to do multiple rounds of “surfing” the waves. According to our guide, rapids shift and change throughout the seasons, with some being huge in the spring and then drying out as the weather heats up for the summer. So each trip would be different from our experience that day.
Midway through the trip we took a brief break from paddling and stopped for some fun cliff jumping and re-hydration. Those of us who couldn’t brave the jumping simply took a moment to marvel at how beautiful the forest around us was. Once we were feeling properly full of snacks, we were back on the river paddling off to our next rapids.
Although the later rapids weren’t close to the size of the first one we hit, we still had that same rush of adrenaline as our boat was flung forwards and backwards, threatening to dislodge anyone who wasn’t holding on properly. At the end of the rapids we were lucky enough to have some extra time on our hands, and the guides gathered all the rafts together to make one giant raft slide!
Our exciting excursion ended with a gentle ride back to home base in a comfortable Pontoon boat cruise. Snuggled up with our dry towels (given to our guides at the beginning of the trip), we took a rest in the shade while enjoying a fantastic BBQ lunch provided by OWL. Shortly after we arrived back at the lodge, we got to rest our weary muscles and watch a video of our adventures on screen.
While white water rafting is in itself a dangerous sport, safety is OWL’s number one priority. From the safety equipment before departure, down to the watchful eyes of the guides, not once did we feel in danger, even while our raft was launched nearly sideways over a wave. OWL’s rafts stick close together to watch the backs of those going through a rapid before and after us, catching anyone who may have fallen from their raft to even looking for lost sandals.
- Pack lots of sunscreen to wear. You’ll be out in the sun for hours with little shade to protect you from the sun’s rays. On a similar note, some aloe vera might be handy for after the trip!
- You also will not be able to carry a purse or backpack with you. Your guides can carry smaller items (like sunscreen or medications), but be prepared to spend roughly 6 hours disconnected from your phone, dry clothes, and sunglasses.
- Wear light and comfortable quick-dry clothes (avoid cotton), and good water shoes or sandals that will stay on your feet.
- For those lucky enough to have a GoPro or any sort of waterproof camera, we highly recommend bringing it with a helmet attachment or with a strong string that can attach to the life vest. Both hands are required for a majority of the trip to paddle the boat or for holding on to the boat for dear life. If you don’t have one, fret not, OWL has a dedicated videographer and photographer filming your progress down the river and capturing all the best moments.
- Keep your mouth shut when going through the waves. Trust us.
Rafting trips run until September 11, so if you’re looking for one last huzzah before the summer ends, OWL Rafting is the place to be. Our verdict? 10/10 Best. Day. Ever! A HUGE thanks to the OWL team for making our trip a fun and memorable one!